Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Processing/manufacturing

The transformation of raw ingredients by physical or chemical means into food is a process that adds economic value to agricultural products and can potentially deliver other benefits by making products that are, for example, safer, easier to prepare, able to be stored throughout the seasons and transported across long distances. However, processing and manufacturing also uses significant amounts of energy and nonrenewable resources and is thus a source of GHG emissions and resource depletion. It is also a focal point of food waste issues: while processing can reduce perishability, nearly as much food is wasted during the processing stage as in the postharvest stage. Furthermore much of the sugar, salt and fats in food products is added and important nutrients and fibre removed, during the processing stage, meaning that processed food consumption is now a major contributor to obesity and associated non communicable diseases.

Image: Rika, Iced Gems, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
18 February 2020

This article in the Guardian, by food writer Bee Wilson, author of The Way We Eat Now, describes the debate around so-called ultra-processed foods. Wilson describes the classification system for processed foods developed by researcher Carlos Monteiro and the research being done on the health impacts of ultra-processed foods.

3 February 2020

This podcast from global food community Food Matters Live discusses the effect that veganism has recently had on the food industry, how plant-based food and drink is likely to develop throughout 2020, and how the media and food companies talk about plant-based foods.

Image: Adam Clark, Baked doughnuts, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
13 January 2020

This review paper argues that obesity and mortality in the United States could be reduced by limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed foods and meats, because of the tendency of processed foods to encourage people to eat more food (based on trials in people), and the inflammatory effect of emulsifiers such as carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80 (based on mouse and in vitro studies, not studies in people).

7 January 2020

This book explores how the design of new food products can contribute to healthy diets and discusses the role of the food industry and government in shaping health policies.

19 November 2019

This book looks at how the food industry and the environment interact, describes how the industry has developed over the past decade, and sets out suggestions to improve the food industry’s future environmental performance.

29 October 2019

This report from international sustainability consultancy Quantis provides advice to companies in the food supply chain on how to transform the food system to become more sustainable.

9 October 2019

This book presents case studies and guidance on extracting high-value compounds from waste and by-products from foods such as dairy, meat, sweet potato, cereals and olive oil.

2 October 2019

Five cellular agriculture startups have launched a new organisation, The Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation (AMPS Innovation). The coalition aims to work with regulators in the United States as they develop regulations for cellular agriculture products, as well as raise wider awareness of the industry.

18 September 2019

This briefing paper from the UK’s Food Research Collaboration argues that accepting United States food safety and animal welfare standards as part of a post-Brexit trade deal would imply “significant risks to public health and a radical decline in food quality standards which would be unprecedented and unacceptable in the UK”. 

17 June 2019

This book by Ruth Kassinger uses case studies to explore how algae could be used to produce food, fuel and packaging materials.

Image: Max Pixel, Pressure Industrial Pipe, Creative Commons CC0
17 June 2019

Methane emissions from ammonia fertiliser manufacturing plants (which use natural gas as a feedstock and energy source) in the United States are around one hundred times higher than currently reported levels, according to this study. Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with methane analysers to take measurements downwind of six ammonia fertiliser plants (there are only 23 such plants in the US).

24 April 2019

This book by David McClements discusses scientific and technological advances (such as gene editing, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence) in the food system, and outlines both potential benefits to people and the environment and concerns over how the technologies might be used.

1 April 2019

This book by Robyn Metcalfe examines processes and technologies in the supply chains that bring food from farms to consumers.

26 March 2019

This book identifies common causes of food waste in developing countries and presents examples of successful food preservation methods for different food types in developing countries.

Image: Shpernik088, The chicken meat industry 14, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

Chicken processing plants in the United States will be allowed to apply for a waiver to increase their processing speed from 140 to 175 birds per minute, in response to a petition from the National Chicken Council. Civil Eats reports that workers in meat processing plants are already injured five times more frequently than all other private workers, and that both animal welfare and labour welfare advocates have previously sought to block increases in processing speed.

Image: Beetle, Candies, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
16 October 2018

A paper argues that current definitions of ultra-processed foods are inconsistently applied. Furthermore, while higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with higher sugar intake and lower fibre intake, the paper claims that intakes of fat, saturated fat and salt are not associated with ultra-processed food consumption. The paper questions the policy recommendation that ultra-processed foods should be avoided.

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